If you’re a smokin’ type of woman* (and I mean that both literally and figuratively) in need of an ego boost, try hanging out at the Podium’s Figaro from early to mid-afternoon on a weekday. They have great coffee and a smoking section, which at that time of day is packed practically exclusively with men doing business (or pretending to do business, or doing other sorts of business). Which makes it both amusing and enormously flattering to walk in, sit down for a puff, and feel the furtive attention of every male eye in the place suddenly riveted on you.
Call me an attention whore, but there’s a certain power in knowing that if there’s a man in the place who is not looking at you, it’s only because he’s gay. (Hi, Two Guys in the Corner Not Quite Holding Hands!)
And speaking of whoring…
Hugo’s, basement level, the Podium
My husband calls me a salon whore, which is to say that I have no loyalty to any one salon, whereas he has been going to the same “barber folk” for longer than our daughter has been alive. (Though when we lived in Hong Kong, we went to the same hair place, called—I’m not kidding—Lucifer. We used to joke that the price was reasonable—HK$60—because the sales tax includes your soul! Cue ominous occult music.)
Me, I’m always in search of a salon that can do a decent pedicure at a decent price. “Decent”, to me, means I don’t have to end up spending more than P700 total for a shampoo, haircut, pedicure, and relevant tips. (Have you ever noticed how they try to sneak in as many people as possible to work on you? One to wash your hair, one to dry your hair, one to take your nail polish off, one to put nail polish on…) Now 700 bucks may seem like a lot to you (especially if you’re a guy), but I know people who have just their hair cut for P3000 (Again, I’m not kidding) and more importantly, I’ve experienced too many bad pedicures to be too frugal about it. We’re talking bleeding cuticles, scarred nails, the works.
Now at Hugo’s—which labels itself a “complete grooming station for men”—they do a wonderful, absolutely pain-free pedicure. What’s interesting is the explanation I got for why it has to be painless. According to my pedicurist Marlyn, women are resigned to suffering for beauty’s sake—if you hurt us, we’ll get pissed, but we’ll be back—whereas if you hurt a man, you will simply never see him again. So people who do nails at men’s grooming places have to be very, very meticulous if they want to keep their customers.
They also do a great boys’ haircut (which is not all that surprising; and which, probably, only my male readers, my friend Katrina, and I care about) and it’s all quite affordable at P100+ for hair and the same for nails. (Which is why I decided to try it out in the first place, because the other salons at the Podium are just ridiculously expensive.) Also, the whole place is done in elegant wood paneling, with nifty motorized chairs and staff people nattily dressed in stripy shirts and vests. Really like an old-fashioned barber shop, complete with one of those revolving poles at the door.
Best of all, since the staff is used to handling men, they don’t talk at you or screech at each other over you like the women or gay people at a femme salon. If you talk to them, then they’ll happily converse; otherwise, they’ll just mess with your hair and not your life.
And really, all the checking-out-in-the-mirror you get from all the other (male) customers is just a side benefit. Really.
*Did you catch the news item about that Frenchwoman who tried to open an airplane door in mid-flight because she wanted to have a smoke? As a former flight attendant, I am shocked and appalled; but as a smoker myself, tragically, I completely understand. Those international flights can just stretch on forever, man…